Mauna Kea Skies Program Features Moon RIDERS

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‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Mauna Kea Skies program, “Moon RIDERS: 2016 Hawai’i High Schools’ Experiment on the Surface of the Moon,” will be held on Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m.

Executive Director of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems Rob Kelso will introduce the Moon RIDERS Hawai’i robotics teams’ work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and the partnership with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar X-PRIZE.

PISCES and the NASA-Kennedy Space Center have worked together for the past two-years towards a lunar surface flight experiment that would leverage transportation through the Google Lunar X-PRIZE, GLXP. Moon RIDERS, Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems, is the joint test project for a lunar surface flight experiment.

Both Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona and ‘Iolani School from Honolulu have been chosen as participants in the project.


“The Google Lunar X-PRIZE is designed to inspire pioneers to do robotic space transport on a budget. In turn, the Moon RIDERS project seeks to inspire this generation of Hawai’i high school students in a first-ever student-participation involving a lunar surface experiment project with emphasis on STEM,” Kelso noted.

This project also allows for critical flight testing and validation of spacecraft systems technology on the surface of the moon. NASA has been unable to do either of these things on their own up to this point.

Advancement of dust-removal technologies has been actively worked on by NASA-KSC. The technology has the potential to be critical in future spacecraft systems operating on planetary surfaces, referred to as the Electrodynamic Dust Shield. PISCES, with its legislative direction in advancing planetary surface systems, saw the collaboration as an opportunity to uniquely involve Hawai’i high school students in a joint engineering project with NASA-KSC, flying as a hosted-payload on an upcoming GLXP mission to the Moon’s surface in late 2016.


Since November 2012, Kelso has been the Executive Director at PISCES. He has also spent 37 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and formerly held the position of NASA Shuttle Flight Director at NASA’s famed Mission Control Center. In addition, Kelso worked as NASA’s Mission Director and has been responsible for the launch and delivery of the Chandra X-Ray telescope.

In addition to his accomplished career, Kelso received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in physics and a Masters in Business Administration.

Cam Wipper, an ‘Imiloa Planetarium staff member, will host the program and provide observational highlights of the night sky over Hawai’i.


Tickets costs $8 for individuals, dual, kupuna, and family members, $6 for patron members, and are free for silver, gold, and corporate members. Non-member tickets cost $10.

You can purchase tickets ahead of time at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by calling 969-9703.

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